I’ve written a lot about social media and the effect it has on us, and it’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ll preface this by saying that, in general, I am a fan of social media – a lot of the professional work I’ve done in the last decade revolves around the stuff, and I think it’s done wonders for entrepreneurs and creating jobs. In short, it’s changed the way we live.
But it’s also done a number on our brains, and it affects the way we conduct our relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners.
And no, this isn’t me saying that I’m jealous when my online friends post pictures of their every lavish vacation (from the packing to the plane to the washcloth animals!), or when there are birth announcements and wedding anniversary love notes.
In fact, those things make me pretty happy. There are full on albums of pictures from places I will probably never get to see, and life milestones being celebrated that I may never get to experience for myself. And I’m truly happy for my friends when their lives lend themselves to the lucky light of the world and good things happen.
But it’s the other side of it all that gets me down – if there was no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, I’d probably never pay much attention to these luxe lifestyles; or these milestone celebrations, unless of course, we all actually met up for drinks and dusted off photo albums like we once did.
So, is social media making us feel inadequate? I’m not the only one with this on the brain – I read an article on the Zoe Report that was a firsthand account of what it was like to “quit” social media, and she brings up a great point about why social feeds (particularly Instagram) can bring us down:
What’s worse, before social media, you knew people who, for example, drove a car that was better than yours, but you also knew people who drove cars that were worse than yours. This gave you perspective. Now, everyone edits their lives so that it looks as though every single person you know is having better experiences than you are, in one way or another. You may understand, rationally, that this isn’t true, but you still respond emotionally to the deceptive information you’re receiving via your Instagram feed.
She said since she quit Instagram, she hasn’t gone back, and is much happier, and finds herself actually reaching out to her friends more.
In all honesty, I don’t spend much time on Instagram. This fact alone is probably why it took me six months to realize that the last guy I slept with actually went back and UNLIKED all of my photos that he had, at one point when we were talking, liked.
And while my self-worth does not weigh itself in “likes” on Instagram, it sure stung when I realized (at 4:30 am on a Sunday) that not only did he go back and unlike all my posts, he was also the first person to like any and every picture that any and every single girl from our same high school posted, which I can see in my feed.
It was then and there that I decided I can’t play this game anymore. The first thing I did was send Instagram a big, fat middle finger, because, I have this guy blocked, along with other losers from my past, and yet I can still see whenever he likes said pics from single girls. Pic of glow bracelets? LIKE. Pic of dog? LIKE. Pic of nephew? LIKE.
Please. Blocking someone on Instagram barely does me any favors, and so, I started unfollowing people. It may not be personal, but it’s time I take control of the FOMO here. And I’m not going to subject myself to memories of an asshole or imagining him with other women just to pretend to save-face, or for the chance to see that one filtered pic of your summer night on the lake. #SorryNotSorry
In the days since, I’ve cleaned out my Facebook, too. If you’re not contributing to the happiness of the world, you’re adding to the sadness, and trust me, I’ve got sadness up to my ears. Again, nothing personal, but we’ve got to reign this digital hot mess in.
And don’t think I’m just being random and petty trying to avoid exes; I’ve got half my family, most of my coworkers, and anyone from the past that has sent me sexual or abusive messages, left inappropriate comments on my page, attempted stalking, and played the whole “Oh I was cleaning out my friends list and accidentally deleted you”-game; nope, block, and goodbye.
I have always enjoyed Twitter more, and lately SnapChat, and I think it’s because (on Twitter) I can interact with people in my industry that I may never meet in-person, but we can still relate on similar issues. I also like SnapChat because, for the most part, it’s fun and unfiltered, and it’s less about complaining and more about laughing at life.
Yes, I realize I may sound like a crazed, cut-throat lunatic right now, but if we know there’s something sucking the life out of us, why are we so slow to cut it out?
Kelly Evans, news anchor for NBC, recently deactivated all of her social accounts after realizing she needed to spend less time on the artificial relationships online, and more time on the friends, family, and work relationships right in front of her.
In the article from NBC.com, she says it worked, and she actually went back to reading a printed newspaper to get informed each morning (!). Here’s what else:
But what I have turned “off” — hopefully for good — is the need to keep up with the Instagram Joneses. Am I “missing out” on stuff now as a result? Sure! And I can’t wait to hear all about it when I catch up with everybody directly.
So, will I be deleting my accounts? Not quite yet. I have, however, deleted several apps, making the mindless scrolling less of an option. And I’ve unfollowed people that I don’t care to see updates for. If we really need to catch up, email me, call me, and let’s meet – in the unfiltered, real-time, no phones kinda way.
Call me crazy, call me old school, call me out of touch – hell, call me maybe – but I’m ready to get a little more real in a way that makes me smile #NoFilter.